The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is a collaborative national center for fusion energy research. The Laboratory advances the coupled fields of fusion energy and plasma physics research, and, with collaborators, is developing the scientific understanding and key innovations needed to realize fusion as an energy source for the world. An associated mission is providing the highest quality of scientific education.
About the Lab
The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a world-class fusion energy research laboratory dedicated to developing the scientific and technological knowledge base for fusion energy as a safe, economical and environmentally attractive energy source for the world’s long-term energy requirements.
The Laboratory is managed by Princeton University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://www.energy.gov/science/office-science. The Laboratory sits on 91 acres on Princeton University's James Forrestal Campus, about three miles from the main campus.
Through its efforts to build and operate magnetic fusion devices, PPPL has gained extensive capabilities in a host of disciplines including advanced computational simulations, vacuum technology, mechanics, materials science, electronics, computer technology, and high-voltage power systems. In addition, PPPL scientists and engineers are applying knowledge gained in fusion research to other theoretical and experimental areas, including the development of plasma thrusters and the propagation of intense beams of ions. The Laboratory’s Office of Technology Transfer assists industry, other universities, and state and local government in transferring these technologies to the commercial sector.
The Laboratory’s graduate education and science education programs provide educational opportunities for students and teachers from elementary school through postgraduate studies.
Magnetic fusion research at Princeton began in 1951 under the code name Project Matterhorn. Lyman Spitzer, Jr., professor of astronomy at Princeton University, for many years had been involved in the study of very hot rarified gases in interstellar space. He launched the study of thermonuclear fusion with support from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and Princeton University’s controlled fusion effort was born.
In 1958, magnetic fusion research was declassified, allowing all nations to share their results openly. The name of the project was changed to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in 1961. The collaborative nature of fusion research continues today, with PPPL at the forefront.
The Laboratory has three major missions, to:
- develop the scientific knowledge and advanced engineering to enable fusion to power the U.S. and the world;
- advance the science of nanoscale fabrication for industries of the future; and
- further the scientific understanding of plasmas from nano- to astrophysical scales.
PPPL’s five core capabilities reflect its expertise and the role it plays in Department of Energy missions:
- Plasma and Fusion Energy Sciences
- Systems Engineering and Integration
- Large-Scale User Facilities/Advanced Instrumentation
- Mechanical Design and Engineering
- Power Systems and Electrical Engineering
For 70 years, PPPL has been a world leader in magnetic confinement experiments, plasma science, fusion science, and engineering. As the only DOE national laboratory with a Fusion Energy Sciences mission, PPPL aspires to be the nation’s premier design center for the realization and construction of future fusion concepts. PPPL also aims to drive the next wave of scientific innovation in plasma nanofabrication technologies to maintain U.S. leadership in this critical industry of the future. Further, Princeton University and PPPL develop the workforce of the future by educating and inspiring world class scientists and engineers to serve the laboratory and national interest.
Enabling a world powered by safe, clean and plentiful fusion energy while leading discoveries in plasma science and technology.